Highly Uniform Wafer-scale Synthesis  of Graphene on SiC

Electronic Materials Growth, Characterization, and Processing

Electronic materials, many invented or engineered, are the foundation of all solid-state electronic devices, enabling emitters and detectors from the deep-ultraviolet to the far-infrared, radio frequency switches for advanced radar and communication systems, high-power switches for efficient energy conversion, and more. The ESTD possesses electronic materials synthesis, characterization, and processing capabilities and expertise that are among the world's best. ESTD scientists work to advance understanding and establish foundations for next-generation and generation-after-next electronic and optoelectronic devices.

Scanning electron microscope image of antimonide-based heterojunction bipolar transistors


The minimum device feature size in state-­of­‐the­‐art electronics is currently less than 30 nm and is expected to scale down to ~10 nm over the coming decade. On this scale, dimensional constraints affect device behavior in unexpected ways because the device size is smaller than the characteristic length-scale of the fundamental excitations that control the electronic, optical, and thermal properties of materials. Consequently, such nanometer-­scale devices exhibit fundamentally different properties than their microscopic counterparts. These size effects present both challenges and opportunities for future DOD electronics technology.

Image taken with an infrared camera utilizing the NRL-produced infrared focal plane.


Optoelectronics is the science and technology of electronic materials and devices that produce, detect, and control light electronically. The broad societal impact of this field is well illustrated by the ubiquitous camera-phone. Much of our modern military is also enabled by optoelectronic devices, which provide capabilities such as night-vision, 24-hour surveillance, seeing through obscurants, and threat detection, to name a few. Optoelectronic research in the ESTD is focused on advancing the capabilities of infrared sensor technologies with new materials and approaches.

A high-efficiency solar array that has been directly integrated into a Marine's backpack to form a portable battery recharing system.


Photovoltaic refers to the generation of electrical energy from light. Perhaps the best-known photovoltaic technology is the solar cell, a semiconductor device that converts sunlight into electricity. The goal of photovoltaic research and development in the ESTD is to adapt this versatile, renewable energy source to meet the needs of the military for energy security. This includes reducing battery loads and reliance on the logistical fuel supply chain, and advancing the capabilities of autonomous systems in the warfighters' environment.

Efficient High Voltage Silicon/SiC Hybrid Modules

Power Electronics

Power electronics is critical for Navy and Marine Corps platforms and missions. The introduction of new weapons systems, new radars, and new sensors means that power needs are growing rapidly for platforms such as electric combat vehicles and the more-electric aircraft. Advanced power electronic converters offer significant advances in power density, efficiency, and reduced total life cycle cost. These converters are based on wide bandgap silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power switching devices and their integration with diamond material layers for improved thermal conductivity.

A schematic image of a thin film transistor consisting of carbon nanotubes on an SOI ("silicon on insulator") as shown in the SEM inset image.

Radiation Effects

The world around us consists of a radiation environment that varies dramatically from place to place and over time. Military systems must operate in environments that pose a consistent threat of high-intensity radiation, most notably space and the manmade nuclear environment. The impact of this radiation on electronic systems can be catastrophic, ranging from momentary interruptions in service, to loss of stored memory, to burnout of the entire system. The goal of the radiation effects research and development in the ESTD is to understand the mechanisms controlling the radiation response of the electronic materials, parts, and systems, devise ways to mitigate radiation effects, and develop new materials and devices that are resistant to radiation exposure.

Theoretical and Computational Electronics and Electromagnetics

Theory and computational modeling play important roles in guiding and understanding research and development in electronics by introducing novel concepts for behaviors and devices, predicting and interpreting materials properties, and simulating performance of devices and networks. The ESTD conducts a broad range of theoretical and modeling activities, often carried out in conjunction with experiment. It serves the overall electronics research and development effort in ways ranging from elucidating the fundamental properties of materials and structures to optimizing the performance of semiconductor and vacuum electronic devices.